The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!



Common Names | Parts Usually Used | Plant(s) & Culture | Where Found | Medicinal Properties | Biochemical Information
Legends, Myths and Stories | Uses | Warning | Bibliography

Scientific Names

  • Aconitum napellus L.
  • Ranunculaceae
  • Buttercup family

Common Names

  • Aconite
  • Friar’s cap
  • Mousebane
  • Wolfbane

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Parts Usually Used

Leaves, root
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture


Monkshood is a European erect, clump-forming perennial plant up to 4 feet tall; the tuberous root produces an erect, simple, glabrous or slightly hairy stem with alternate, palmately 5 to 7 lobed leaves that are dark green on top and paler beneath. The hood-like, blue-purple flowers grow in long, irregular racemes from June to August. Not heat tolerant, needs full sun or partial shade.

Other varieties: Monk’s cowl (A. carmichaelii) is native to the Szechuan region of China; it is used as a narcotic and as a topical anesthetic ointment in Chinese and homeopathic medicine, but it is too powerful for the home gardener to use.

Wolfsbane (A. lycoctonum) has yellow flowers and is familiar from folktales; old superstition held that it repelled werewolves.
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Where Found

Cultivated in gardens in the United States and Canada.
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Medicinal Properties

Analgesic, anodyne, cardiotonic, febrifuge, sedative, stimulant
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Biochemical Information

Aconitine, one of the fastest acting and deadliest alkaloids known
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Various species of monkshood grow wild in North America, particularly in mountainous regions. These are similarly poisonous.

Used as a poison in hunting and war in Europe and Asia since ancient times, monkshood has acquired an extremely bad image through the ages. Its juice was used by soldiers to poison water supplies in the path of advancing enemies, and by hunters to poison spears, arrowheads, and bait.

In Greek legend, monkshood originated from the foam dripping from the fangs of the three-headed dog Cerberus that Herakles (Hercules) brought up from the underworld. Also Hecate, the Greek goddess of the moon, ghosts, witches, and magic, poisoned her father with monkshood.

In the Middle Ages witches were associated with monkshood. Since it numbs the senses and gives a sensation of flying, they are said to have smeared it on their bodies and broomsticks.

The name monkshood comes from its hood-shaped flowers.

A. napellus, monkshood, is the source of the drug aconite; it was formerly used to make a deadly poison; Shakespeare’s Romeo killed himself with a cup of it.
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Monkshood is sometimes used for the pains of neuralgia, sciatica, and arthritis, gout, rheumatism, pneumonia, measles, nervous fever, and chronic skin problems.

Monkshood is among the most poisonous of plants. Small doses can cause painful death in a few hours. Do not use without medical supervision under any circumstances.
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Monkshood is among the most poisonous of plants. Small doses can cause painful death in a few hours. Do not use without medical supervision under any circumstances.
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Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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